After you get the job, after you get the house in the suburbs, the settled family, the SUV, what then? Do you forget about the past (military) life?
— Eric Navarro, Marine combat veteran

Making peace with the decision to get out of the military is the hardest part of transition for millions veterans. Military leavers report that they must confront a number of other concerns in addition to getting a job, such as a loss of status, a requirement to compete with younger people, difficulty finding equivalent levels of responsibility, civilian disinterest in their military past, and changing family dynamics.

Combined with an unemployment rate that is still 50% higher for post 9/11 veterans than it is for their civilian counterparts, it is not surprising that more than two thirds of veterans report that they had difficulty transitioning to civilian life.

  • In a 2013 survey on SpouseBuzz.com, more than 75% of respondents said that their biggest fear of having their service member leave the military was either money or their service member’s job. 
  • In a recent follow up survey on Military.com, more than ninety percent of transitioning spouses reported that their service member’s paycheck was their primary source of income. 
  • Even after transition, 72% of military families said they rely on their veteran as their primary source of income.
  • The National Military Family Association (NMFA) reports that 47% of veteran spouses reported that they were not very satisfied or not at all satisfied with their service member’s current employment.

Yet spouses have limited access to transition programs.
In military life, it is well known that a disproportionate amount of responsibility for the family is placed in the hands of the spouse (Clever and Segal 2013). Department of Defense sponsored programs only include spouses on a space available basis. And spouses report that they are often told there is no space available. 

 

 
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“PLEASE, PLEASE consider implementing a seminar exclusively for spouses about the changes you, your spouse, and your family will go through…I feel my spouse fell into a depression from the realization that not everything is all roses like the seminars suggest. He, in fact, could not ‘do whatever he wanted to do.’ It was a big blow to my spouse to find out how difficult the transition was. Spouses should be prepared for what their retirees may go through.”
— Veteran Spouse in National Military Family Association Military Spouse Transition Survey 2014
 

Jacey Eckhart with Noreen O'Neil, Director of, Military Spouse Program, speak about what spouses should know about transition at Military Family Forum V: Transitioning to Veteran or Retiree Status October 2015.

Spouses Are Interested in Transition

Spouses do have a vested interest in transition.  Respondents to the National Military Family Associations Military Spouse Transition Survey (2014) reported that they were interested in knowing more about:
·      Effects of the transition on the marriage

·      Financial preparation

·      Final PCS reimbursement

·      Unemployment benefits

·      Replacing SGLI and FMSGLI

·      TSP options, terminal leave options

·      Adjusting the family budget to cope with transition.

Transition and Spouse Employment Activities 


In her extensive experience with live events for military spouses, Jacey knows that military spouses tend to learn best in the kind of informal environment in which they participate and discuss (rather than listen to a lecture or watch a PowerPoint). 
Service members are curious about the transition process too, but they are uninterested in sharing a lot of feelings in public or hearing what they have been told before. Neither spouses nor service members are interested in information they can easily discover on their smartphones. These couples want insider information delivered in an upbeat, interactive, stress-free way.
Let Jacey design a transition event for your organization that includes light-hearted, research-based demonstrations and activities about transition, possibly including segments like:


1. Endings, Middles… and Then Beginnings?  

Research shows that the transition timeline works in an illogical order.  How do couples keep communication channels open during such a stressful time?

2. The Jam Jar Experiment 

Choosing the next career direction can be overwhelming for service members and spouses alike. This exercise teaches couples to help narrow the choices available so that service members increase their chances of staying with their first post-military job more than a year.

 
3. Hanging on the Median Strip

The post-9/11 military generation has a strong work-related identity even if they are getting out after a first tour.  Understanding the process helps spouses and service members successfully battle the empty middle of transition.

 
4. The What-If Timeline

One of the most aggravating experiences for transitioning couples is trying to make decisions when nothing is written in stone.  This exercise allows couples to work out plans for many scenarios so that they can fix it and forget it.   

 
5. Your Top Ten Money Worries Solved

Invite your financial planners to answer the top money worries of transitioning families.